Medical Robotics Magazine

The first and only commercial feature medical robotics news magazine, founded February 2007 by John J. Otrompke, JD, consultant and publisher


Medical Robotics Magazine is the world's first and only commercial feature news magazine devoted to all aspect of the medical robotics industry- including robotic surgery, physical therapy robots, hospital orderlies, and other topics related to robotic medicine. As a feature magazine, Medical Robotics features interviews, business news, conference coverage and editorials, as well as a generous portion of articles written by noteworthy robotics surgeons as well as clinical trials reports. MR has been on-line since 2007, and first appeared in print in January of 2008 at the annual meeting of MIRA (the Minimally Invasive Robotics Association) in Rome, Italy. Medical Robotics Magazine is copyrighted, features a nascent Board of Editorial Advisors, and is indexed by the U.S. Library of Congress. All contents (c) 2011 John J. Otrompke, JD Contact: John J. Otrompke, JD 646-730-0179

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Products from Tekscan May Boost Robotic Innovation in the Medical Field

Sensors May Go Into Experimental "Laprobot" at UCLA

by John Otrompke

                A new engineering strategy on the part of a major manufacturer of robotic components may already be spurring changes in the reviving economy.

                New sensor kits and connection options made available at the of last year by Tekscan may be incorporated into a new surgical robot being worked on at the University of California- Los Angeles.

            “We were responding to demands from the market for more connection options,” said Elizabeth Hood, marketing specialist at Boston-based Tekscan. “We now offer alternate connection methods,” Hood explained. “Whereas our traditional connection method involves terminating our sensors with pins, we now also offer a single-sided connection method which lets customers use zero insertion force or low insertion force connections,” she said.

                The new products are proving popular. “We have seen a lot of interest among the robotic community in our standard sensors and in the starter kits,” Hood said. Tekscan sensors are already used in medical applications such as mammogram models, dental applications, and infusion pumps.

            The new robot under development would use the Tekscan sensors as part of a pneumatic balloon-based tacticity system, according to Dr. Martin Culjat, PhD, adjunct professor and research director at the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology at UCLA.

                The Center, which is a customer of Tekscan and was founded in 2004, has already designed a haptic system for use in lower-limb prosthetics, using the sensors, Culjat said.  “We’ve been able to incorporate a sensor on the prosthetic feet of  amputees, which transmits the force to the limbs,” he explained.

There aren’t many sensors that are very thin, and light-weight with appropriate pressure ranges  for tactile sensitivity. There are proposed solutions, but this is a really challenging problem,” he explained.

The haptic system under development at UCLA may be applicable to any surgical robot, although the researchers there are working specifically with the da Vinci. Furthermore, the Center is also building its own robot, called the Laprobot, Culjat added.

“We literally dice the sensors  up ourselves, and carefully place them on to the big grasper. Our actuator has six elements for a much better response to the human sensory system,” according to Culjat.

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